September is National Preparedness Month

FEMA has designated September as National Preparedness Month. Here are some tips from the SBA on what you need to do to prepare your business for emergencies and disasters.

Earlier this month officials from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) teamed up with representatives from the Philadelphia Eagles for a pep rally in Philadelphia.

The pep rally was held just prior to the National Football League kick off of its 2010 season. The rally was organized to encourage Eagles football fans to take steps this month to ensure their family and their businesses are prepared for both natural and man-made emergencies.

The rally was part of a series of events that FEMA, other government agencies and private organizations have planed in September for National Preparedness Month.

“No matter how much FEMA or our state and local partners do to prepare for an emergency, we will only be successful if families and businesses do the same,” said Craig Fugate, FEMA’s Administrator.”The one thing football and preparedness have in common is that both require a team effort. When people take steps to prepare, they do more than help themselves and their family – they also help relieve the burden on local first responders, making the entire community more safe and secure.”

National Preparedness Month is led by FEMA’s “Ready Campaign,” in partnership with Citizen Corps and The Advertising Council. According to FEMA, National Preparedness Month is a nationwide effort encouraging individuals, families, businesses and communities to work together and take action to prepare for emergencies.

“National Preparedness Month is supported by a coalition of public, private and non-profit organizations that help spread the preparedness message,” FEMA stated. “This year, a record number of coalition members are sharing preparedness information with their members, customers, employee, and communities. Members also spearhead activities that encourage specific steps for individual, neighborhood, and community preparedness.”

It is perhaps fitting that September was designated as National Preparedness Month, as the worst terrorist attack on America fell on September 11, 2001 and Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast in September of 2005.

Along with FEMA the U.S. Small Businesses Administration (SBA) is also encouraging business owners, homeowners and others to create their own disaster preparedness plan during National Preparedness Month. “There is a tendency to think that a large-scale disaster is not going to happen where I live,’” Karen Mills, the SBA Administrator, said.“The reality is that storms, floods, earthquakes, fires and man-made disasters can strike anytime and anywhere. Planning ahead for your own post-disaster recovery is a good step toward protecting your family, your business and your community.”

To prepare for disasters, SBA offers the following tips:

Develop a solid emergency response plan. Find evacuation routes from the home or business and establish meeting places.  Make sure everyone understands the plan beforehand.  Keep emergency phone numbers handy.  Business owners should designate a contact person to communicate with other employees, customers and vendors. Homeowners, renters and business owners should ask an out-of-state friend, colleague or family member to be a “post- disaster” point of contact, supporting the flow of information about short-term relocations, recovery, additional sources of assistance, etc.

Make sure you have adequate insurance coverage. Disaster preparedness begins with having adequate insurance coverage—at least enough to rebuild your home or business.  Homeowners and business owners should review their policies to see what is or isn’t covered. Companies should consider business interruption insurance, which helps cover operating costs during the post- disaster shutdown period.  Flood insurance is essential. To find out more about the National Flood Insurance Program, visit the Web site at

Copy important records. It’s a good idea to back up vital records and information saved on computer hard drives, and store that information at a distant offsite location in fireproof safe deposit boxes.  You should have copies/back ups of important documents ready to take with you if you have to evacuate.

Create a “Disaster Survival Kit.” The kit should include a flashlight, a portable radio, extra batteries, first-aid supplies, non-perishable food, bottled water, a basic tool kit, plastic sheeting and garbage bags, cash, and a digital camera to take pictures of the property damage after the storm.

More preparedness tips for businesses, homeowners and renters are available on the SBA’s website at 

Additional information on developing an emergency plan is available at the federal government’s preparedness website

Paul Davis is a writer who covers crime & security for newspapers, magazines and the Internet. He can be reached at

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